Horse News

BLM Violates Own Wild Horse Welfare Standards

Source: The Cloud Foundation

Roundup Incident Sparks Outcry

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – On February 12, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a helicopter roundup of wild horses at Cedar Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) in Utah.  The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and advocates across the country contend that BLM’s actions at the roundup violate standards in their own Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP).

Eyewitness, Mosie Trewhitt, a professional horse trainer, photographed the incident of a lone pinto mare being driven by a helicopter. The mare could not keep up with her band but the helicopter kept pushing her. Then a wrangler joined the pursuit and both helicopter and wrangler chased the mare on a dead run along a barbed wire fence line. The wrangler tried to rope her numerous times and was finally successful. The mare lurched and flipped over or tried to jump the fence. She became entangled in the barbed wire, and ended up on the other side of the fence.

The mare escaped, dragging the rope behind her and has not been seen since the incident according to BLM who also contend she was uninjured. Trewhitt’s blog, Voices of the Herd, documents the incident with vivid photographs. Fears persist that this mare who appears to be pregnant may be strangled by the rope or suffer from infection due to an obvious gash on her right rear leg.

“I’ve witnessed roundups since 1994 in which inhumane actions were common and often ignored,” states Ginger Kathrens, the Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation and the BLM’s Humane Advocate on the National Wild Horse and Bureau Advisory Board. “To their credit BLM responded to growing concerns about the inhumane treatment of wild horses and burros during and after roundups by creating the CAWP.”

In 2011 BLM began the process of creating humane roundup standards.  The final product, published in 2015, tried to reduce incidents like this.  “Years were spent on this document at considerable expense, but the document does no good if the BLM does not follow or enforce the standards,” adds Paula King, TCF Communications Director.

After extensive review, TCF cites the following violations of the CAWP:

 1.     II. Capture Techniques. B Helicopter Drive Trapping, Para. 1 “Regarding helicopter driving, the standards state “the helicopter must be operated using pressure and release methods to herd the animals… and should not repeatedly evoke erratic behavior in the WH&Bs causing injury or exhaustion. “

2.     II. Capture Techniques. B Helicopter Drive Trapping, Para. 4 “When WH&Bs are herded through a fence line en route to the trap, the Lead COR must be notified by the contractor.  The Lead COR must determine the appropriate width of the opening that the fence is let down to allow for safe passage through the opening.”

 3.      II. Capture Techniques. C. Roping, Para.1  “The roping of any WH&B must be approved prior to the procedure by the Lead COR.” 

 4.     II. Capture Techniques. C. Roping, Para.3  “Ropers should dally the rope to their saddle such that the animals can be brought to a stop as slowly as possible and must not tie the rope hard and fast to the saddle so as to intentionally jerk animals off their feet.”

 5.     Instruction Memorandum No. 2015-151 Policy/Action  “At all times, the care and treatment provided by the BLM and our contractors should be characterized by compassion and concern for the animal’s well-being and welfare needs.”

 6.     Instruction Memorandum 2013-60 “The Incident Command will ensure that everyone involved in gather operations receives a copy of these expectations prior to the start of the gather and the Lead Cor and all BLM employees present shall ensure that gather operations are conducted in compliance with these expectations.”

 7.     Instruction Memo 20133-59  “…animal condition and fatigue will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine the number of attempts that can be made to capture the animal.  Animals will not be pursued to a point of exhaustion or distress.”

BLM issued a statement about the account but has made no mention of any disciplinary actions they plan to take against the COR, the helicopter contractor, the wrangler or the BLM staff at the trap.

 “Who is responsible? Who was the COR on this operation? Why are contractors not required to comply with standards?  Why is no one held accountable for these abuses?” King asks. “This should never have happened.  Responsible parties must be named and held accountable,” she concluded.

Eyewitness Trewhitt writes: “With the impact, the cuts she must have gotten from the barbed wire and the trailing noose around her neck…there is no saying what could happen out there.  I hate to think about it, but we need to understand the consequences of these actions.”

“I have a basic question: what was the reason to endlessly pursue this terrified, pregnant mare to exhaustion?” Kathrens asked.

“This contractor has been rounding up wild horses for nearly 40 years, and should be aware of BLM’s humane standards,” states Lisa Friday, TCF Board Member who has extensive experience with wild horse herds in Utah. “Their helicopter pilot must have known that the mare was exhausted. Yet he continued the pursuit, and when a wrangler on horseback was dispatched the mare was run some more. This is a clear violation of the CAWP.”

“Contractors make millions of dollars at the expense of our beloved wild horse families – and at the expense of the American taxpayers,” Kathrens concludes. “They should not be rewarded for this kind of inhumane behavior and we ask that penalties be imposed on those involved.”

LINKS of Interest:

Escape of the Paint Mare



BLM INSTRUCTION MEMO No. 2015-151 Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program for Wild Horse and Burro Gathers


BLM Response to Cedar Mountain Roundup

Charge the BLM & contractor for animal abuse for the inhumane handling of a pregnant mare.

16 replies »

  1. What is going to come from commenting except to vent rage at something we seem to be able to do nothing about. Especially in this new regime. Obama was no friend to the mustangs and trump and his cohorts certainly aren’t. Is there no ultra wealthy people who can and want to help with this issue. It seems money is the only answer whether you want to kill them or save them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. THEY NEED TO FIND THIS MARE AND GET THE ROPE OFF HER AND FACE CHARGES LIKE ANY OTHER CITIZENS WOULD. The law clearly prohibits harassment, which this clearly was. If this mare couldn’t keep up they could have let her go or slowed everything down for her so they’d still get their paycheck for her.

    The only potential positive is the hondo on the rope will slip, so she’s not likely to strangle unless the rope catches on something and she pulls it tight, both very probable, sadly, especially if she lays down to abort or deliver her foal.

    I can say no pregnant cow would ever be subjected to such treatment as they are too valuable to their owners. Our publicly owned wild horses are NO LESS VALUABLE!


    • Louie C have you contacted the SLT and asked them why they removed your comments? Is this a common practice? “Someone” doesn’t like the truth out there…who may that “someone” be?


  3. Heart breaking. We talk about humane treatment, but to an agency that declares these native horses and burros to be non-native. In which case, they want to reduce numbers as rapidly as possible.


  4. This is horrendous.Horses should not have to be subjected to this intense barbaric treatment That poor poor mare.Is anyone looking for her or hust another day at the office for cold callius insensitive bureaucrats Horses only know flight or fight Inagine your terror if you were rounded up by a loud machine coming at you from above and no escape.No a bureaucrat would never allow themselves to feel compassion or have a sense of right from wrong


  5. Who, if anyone is suppose to react to this inhumane treatment of OUR wild horses?? Someone should be accountable and fined, prosicuted and maybe jailed! That is what happens to people who mistreat dogs, cats and correled horses! Since they belong to us, the people, can we ask to bring charges against these people??


  6. I think this is just horrific!!! You need to STOP this insanity!!! These wild horses are our heritage. They were here first. LEAVE THEM ALONE!!!!!




  8. Reposting this comment so that it will not be overlooked

    Kathleen Hayden
    March 4, 2017 @ 6:37 PM Edit

    To BRIAN MAFFLY | The Salt Lake Tribune
    regarding article below : Utah Flips-Off Feds by Voting To Butcher Protected American Wild Horses

    Please Brian can you tell me why Utah, in it’s efforts to exterminate wild horses, would NOT HAVE to repeal 1976 FLPMA in order to repeal the 1971 (not so) FREE ROAMING WILD horse and burro act…after the Kleppe v New Mexico Supreme Court findings?? The Western States want sovereign rights that are founded in seminal laws and yet federal laws regarding public ownership of wildlife have existed since the Magna Carta. Wild horse and burro herds are no exception. See Mt States v Hodel See Case Law Mountain States v. Hodel
    ” In structure and purpose, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act is nothing more than a land-use regulation enacted by Congress to ensure the survival of a particular species of wildlife. At the outset, it is important to note that wild horses and burros are no less “wild” animals than are the grizzly bears that roam our national parks and forests.” In addition Herd areas relevant to the exemption clause” of the 1976 Federal Land Planning & Management Act. Sec. 302(a) which says; in relevant part,
    “where a tract of the BLM lands has been dedicated to specific uses according to other provisions of law, it shall be managed in accordance with such laws.” i.e.such as the intent of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act. 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act,and the 1973 Endangered species Act.
    So while wild horse and burros constitute less than one percent of all grazing on public lands, there are more warehoused off the range. Wild horse and burro herds are credited with the damage that by shear numbers belong to Elk..see

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Honestly I don’t understand why they round up these horses to begin with, they have been living off the land for 100s of years, just let them be


  10. “The Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” Winston Churchhill ” The wild horses have been here longer than the BLM. By God’s grace they will be here longer. “Modern molecular biology has shown wild hoses to be a reintroduced native North American wildlife species. Horses reintroduced by the Spanish were genetically equivalent to those that had gone extinct in North America 11 to 12 thousand years prior


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